Student SpotlightsMichael Hang, Class of 2012, Finance
As a Senior in High School, I heavily weighed my options of attending major in-state Universities that I thought would not only provide a great environment to learn, but also have real-world experience opportunities that would make me a unique and ideal candidate no matter what post-undergraduate path I would decide to take. As a student pursuing a Finance degree, UAB really attracted me due to its location and strong business networks in Birmingham, AL. The UAB School of Business, in my opinion, offers the best real-world experience as part of its learning curriculum. The professors are all very well connected to high-profile executives, and UAB’s Career Services program connects students with companies for internships and job opportunities. Personally, I was able to land an internship with MassMutual Financial Group the summer after my freshman year, and secured a job as the number three recruit in the country for Ford Motor’s Leadership Development Program several weeks before Spring Graduation--all through the help of UAB’s faculty and staff.
I joined GCL due to the program’s unique emphasis on social issues from a community micro level, all the way to, just as the name suggests, a global level. During my first semester, I studied the history of Birmingham, and the consequences, good and bad, that civic and industrial leadership decisions had on the city. That class really got the gears turning on discovering a passion that I did not realize I had, and that was helping people with disabilities. So, during the summer of my sophomore year, I personally raised over $5,500 for the charitable organization, Push America, and cycled 4,000 miles from San Francisco, CA to Washington, DC to raise awareness and funds for people with disabilities. The journey lasted sixty-seven days and coupled with the curriculum that I learned in GCL, really changed my life.
The experiences that I had during my time at UAB and as a student in GCL truly groomed me to think about the “big picture” and how leaders can really impact countless lives. The most important part of the UAB and GCL experience will be what you can take away from it, and how you can use your own experiences to impact the community around you, and potentially, the world.Amber Peek, Class of 2012, Foreign Languages
Global and Community Leadership Honors Program is a unique organization that gives its students the opportunity to discover inequalities in the world through personal lenses. I started my freshman year with no clue about what societal issue I would be most passionate about, because there were so many that seemed intriguing and important to me. This changed very quickly when my granddad died as a result from nursing home neglect at the beginning of my second semester. This started a very difficult journey for me trying to figure out what I could do to change a daunting societal structure such as the nursing home. For three years, I read many heartbreaking stories of mistreatment of the elderly and I had all intentions of doing a multi-cultural study about nursing home reform. However, when I set foot in Ecuador, it was obvious that God had different plans for me. Soon, I found myself working in an orphanage in Quito, Ecuador, teaching English alongside national teachers and leading numerous tutoring sessions throughout the week for close to one hundred orphans.
For the first time in my life, I personally knew orphans and began to learn about what life looked like inside an institution. Being personally interested in adoption, I began to wonder what identity struggles take place as a result of adoption. Struggles faced by orphans who live their lives in an institution, by the children adopted, by the birth parents, and by the adoptive parents.
This experience in the classroom also revealed some of my personal interests that I never knew existed. I never knew I would enjoy standing in front of a classroom full of kids and teaching them. Sure, I knew that my teachers had a big impact on my life, but I never knew I could also have that kind of impact on other children. These experiences have led me to choose to further my studies in ESL education, to have the privilege to assist students to expand their opportunities to excel even though English is not their first language.
GCL has given me the opportunity to explore a couple of different important societal issues and has taught me that I have the opportunity to make a difference. This program has made my undergraduate experience something that I can be proud of and something that I will never forget.